I also ran across a really interesting article in Salon about the moral histories of some of the past recipients of the Nobel Prize for literature. While we all now know about Gunter Grass and the Waffen-SS, I was surprised to find out that so many other winners had very checkered pasts, including, I was shocked to find out, Pablo Neruda.
The most shameful (and least known) episode, however, concerns Neruda, a lifelong, unrepentant Stalinist. During his stint at the Chilean Embassy in Paris dealing with asylum applications from Spanish Civil War refugees, Neruda is said to have heavily favored those who shared his hard-line beliefs when it came to issuing visas. One wonders how many of the rejected perished in concentration camps or wound up as slave laborers under Nazi and Vichy rule. There's also the little matter of Neruda's aiding and abetting under diplomatic cover an unsuccessful assassination attempt on Trotsky in Mexico in 1940, an action he defended his entire life.Knut Hamsun gave his Nobel medal to Goebbels, Luigi Pirandello joined the Fascists early on, Wole Soyinka refused to stage a play of Animal Farm as it was anti-Stalinist, Jacinto Benevente and novelist Camilo José Cela collaborated with Franco, and Mikhail Sholokov was a plagiarist and a Stalinist shill.
Of course, the committee does keep some people from receiving the prize for certain reasons—Celine and Pound's anti-Semitism was far too well-known to honor them, and Bertolt Brecht cuckolded one of the prize committee members, so you don't see any of their names on the list.